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SILENT DANCE

Solstice

Neo-Prog


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Solstice Silent Dance album cover
3.48 | 51 ratings | 10 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Peace (6:30)
2. Earthsong (6:38)
3. Sunrise (4:07)
4. Return of Spring (4:53)
5. Cheyenne (5:59)
6. Brave New World (8:46)
7. Find Yourself (6:03)
8. White Lady (5:46)

Total Time: 48:42

Bonus CD from 2007 remaster:
- Demos 1982 :
1. Morning Light (1:12)
2. Return Of Spring (6:50)
3. Whyte Lady (5:49)
4. Morning Light (Reprise) (1:31)
- Pathways Demos :
5. New Life (4:21)
6. Whyte Lady (5:49)
7. Pathways (6:23)
8. Morning Light (2:44)
- Demo 1983 :
9. Sunrise (3:42)
- Peace Tape Demo :
10. Peace For The New Age (6:38)
11. New Life (4:37)
- BBC Radio 1 Friday Rock Show Session :
12. Find Yourself (4:30)
13. Peace For The New Age (6:34)
14. The Sea (7:31)
15. Cannibalise Legalis (4:47)

Total time 72:58

Line-up / Musicians

- Sandy Leigh / lead vocals
- Andy Glass / guitar, backing vocals
- Marc Elton / violin, keyboards, backing vocals
- Mark Hawkins / bass, bass pedals
- Martin Wright / drums, percussion

With:
- Margaret Phillips / Fender Rhodes (2,7)
- Sue Robinson / vocals (bonus 5,6,8)
- Shelley Patt / vocals (bonus 9)

Releases information

Artwork: Martin Higgs

LP Equinox Records ‎- EQRLP 001 (1984, UK)

CD Progressive Records ‎- PRO 013 (1991, UK)
2xCD Festival Music ‎- 200709A (2007, UK) Remaster w/ bonus CD including MC Releases & Demos

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SOLSTICE Silent Dance ratings distribution


3.48
(51 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
8%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
39%
Good, but non-essential (39%)
39%
Collectors/fans only (12%)
12%
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)
2%

SOLSTICE Silent Dance reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Excellent RENAISSANCE inspired band led by the distinctive vocals of Sandy Leigh who sounds somewhere in the Annie Haslam and Jon Anderson camp. SOLSTICE are excellent musicians with violin, deep bass lines, solid guitar and percussion interplay. "Silent Dance" emits real warm earthly tones and contains some highly memorable melodies and progressive moments. This is an excellent album that I have had in my collection for quite a while now and do frequently resurrect it to re-enjoy the music.
Review by lor68
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars What a pity for such a very weak production. Talking about this record, labeled under the former "Progressive records" in the course of year 1984 ,I have to admit that honestly it's characterized by some good arrangements as well as some prolix parts too. That was the period of the so called re-birth of such "Romantic Progressive Genre" in the UK, thanks to bands such as MARILLION, PENDRAGON, IQ, TWELFTH NIGHT and so on, whose results were often under our expectations. Otherwise some years later there was a failure, regarding of this attempt, but nevermind. However, coming back to the present publication, SOLSTICE produced an interesting album, in the vein of CURVED AIR, thanks to a female singer whose voice is very similar to that one by Jon ANDERSON (YES), with hints of such New-Progressive stuff, regarding of the electric guitar. The utilization of interesting strings and a violin as well from the synthesizers, let the listener enter an accessible pop folk, thanks also to some echoes from the Far East music and such Folk-Progressive stuff from Europe as well.

The best track is probably the instrumental "Return to Spring", which is very vivid, but also "A Brave New World" is worth checking out. The other tracks sometimes are boring and quite simplistic, in comparison for example to the best stuff of CURVED AIR and GRYPHON too, but perhaps by means of a better production the output would have brought a different mood and interest as well among the European "Progressive Fans".

Review by horza
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Thinking back,I realise now that I was very lucky to have seen some great bands in very small venues. Pallas,Marillion,Magnum and Solstice to name but a few. Solstice were truly wonderful. Sandy Leigh was a fastastic singer,very pure and tonally spectacular. This album was one of my favourites for a long time. I'm glad to say that I have recently been listening again,and it still gives me goosebumps. Put this album on and chill out with a friend and a nice glass of wine or whatever takes your fancy. An excellent addition to a proglovers collection.
Review by erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This UK formation was founded in 1980, they toured a lot (many gigs in the famous London Marquee), performed on known festivals like Reading and Stonehenge and even played live in the BBC radio studio. Their debut album entitled Silence Dance (1984) was released in the heydays of the neo-prog, speerheaded by Marillion with IQ and Pendragon in their slipstream. Recently the record company has rereleased their entire back-catalogue, remastered and featuring lots of previously unreleased material. This reissue of Silent Dance contains 2-CD's.

Listening to the melodic and pleasant sound of Solstice, the folky elements are very obvious in often mellow climates with frequent use of the violin and acoustic guitar and lots of attention for the vocal parts. One singer often reminds me of Jon Anderson and the female singer evoked Annie Haslal (Renaissance), very beautiful. In the song Brave New World the band showcases their symphonic prog potentials in a very impressive way: interesting shifting moods, lush keyboards (including the distinctive string-ensemble), sensitive electric guitarplay, a nice synthesizer solo and those majestic Moog Taurus bass pedals, very compelling! I had loved to hear that symphonic prog side by Solstice more often, now it sounds a bit too folky for me (and many neo-progheads didn't know what to think about Solstice). CD-2 contains music from the three 'cassette releases' (two from 1982 and one from 1983), a demo tape from 1983 (song Sunrise) and a BBC concert entitled Friday Rock Show (1983). On the first cassette Solstice plays in a four piece line-up with an omnipresent violin (not unlike German prog band Hoelderlin, although that's a viola, haha) along some delicate guitar solos. The second cassette presents singer Sue Robinson with her Gaelic voice and on the third cassette we hear singer Sandy Leigh who also performed on the Silent Dance LP. To me the cassettes and demo tape no more or less than nice and especially interesting for the Solstice fans. Really interesting are the four songs of the Friday Rock Show concert, including the wonderful symphonic prog track The Sea, I don't understand why it was deleted for the album! The final composition is the funny country & western sounding Cannibalistic Legalis delivering sparkling violin and propulsive rhythm-guitar.

This 2-CD version is a good opportunity to discover Solstice their unique sound, especially if you like folk. My rating: 3,5 stars.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars "You've got to find yourself before you look for anyone else!"

I must admit that I was not particularly impressed by this album when I first heard it, but I found myself playing it over and over until I realized that I actually enjoy it very much. The first thing that strikes you when you hear the first track is the similarity between the voice of the female lead vocalist Sandy Leigh and that of Jon Anderson. The latter has indeed a somewhat feminine quality to his voice and Leigh is clearly a singer in that style. There are several other Yes-similarities as well in the music of Solstice but they are not as evident as some people would make you believe. The similarities with Yes are perhaps most apparent on the first track of the album. Other bands that might come to mind while listening to Silent Dance are Renaissance, Mike Oldfield and perhaps Kansas. Like in Renaissance, the bass guitar is often (but not always) Chris Squire-like, but again like Renaissance, the sound of Solstice is a bit toned down compared to, and not as hard edged and "flashy" as, Yes or Kansas (it is more of a Turn Of The Century than a Sound Chaser if you catch my drift).

As might be expected from looking at the cover art picture and reading the lyrics and song titles, there is a certain New-Age sensibility in the approach of Solstice, sometimes reminding me of Oldfield's music. The sound of Silent Dance is never very aggressive or overly complex and some of the occasionally wordless vocals come across as chants. This is particularly noticeable on Cheyenne that features a chant that reminds me of the one provided by Steeleye Span's Maddy Prior to Mike Oldfield's Incantations album. The presence of violin and acoustic guitars also brings a slight but appealing Folk element to the mix and a somewhat jazzy element is also present, most evident on the closing track.

As Solstice is a British band formed in 1980 and listed here as Neo-Prog, it should perhaps be pointed out that they have sound-wise nothing to do with bands like IQ, Marillion, Pallas or other bands of that school. The sound of Solstice is more rooted in the classic Symphonic Prog of the 70's. Indeed, it is hard to believe that this album came out around the same time as Yes' 90125 and Renaissance' Time-Line and countless other albums by other classic Prog bands that were released around this time and are (often rightly) regarded as the worst albums of these bands. Unlike most albums from these the- worst-of-times for progressive Rock (and music in general), Silent Dance does not have that typical 80's sound. The sonic quality of the present album is high as is the quality of the actual songs. To have good material is, of course, the most important thing in all music, and the songs here are strong.

An excellent addition!

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars Neo-prog of the 80s is often considered the key musical movement that successfully resuscitated progressive rock and put it back onto the greater public's radar. While bands such as Twelfth Night, Marillion, Pallas and Pendragon seem to get the lion's share of credit for this revival, there were in fact dozens of bands that participated in this progressive reboot and one such band was the Buckinghamshire, England based SOLSTICE that was formed in 1980 by guitarist Andy Glass (who still happens to be a member of the band). Despite the band being corralled into the overarching neo-prog scene, SOLSTICE was quite different than the typical synthesizer based bands that took their primary inspiration from 70s Genesis. This band while loosely fitting into the scene was in fact more of a progressive folk act with luscious acoustic guitars, a vivacious violin and the angelic vocals of Sandy Leigh who was unbelievably the perfect female version of Yes' Jon Anderson.

Despite an early start in the prog revival world, SOLSTICE actually had a hard time of it in the beginning. While the band had already become seasoned veterans on the live gig circuit having played many clubs and the university scenes, the band took many years to find their debut album SILENT DANCE on the market which ended up costing more money than expected and taking over five months longer than they wanted. Nevertheless, the band crafted one of the more unique albums that got lumped into the greater neo-prog world of the 80s. Unlike the greater majority of neo-prog bands that took the Genesis infused approach and added glossy layers of keyboard parts, SOLSTICE had a sound all their own that was part folk and part rock that incorporated healthy doses of ambient and even ethnic world music.

Andy Glass' guitar playing was unlike any other as he eschewed the clear lineage of Steve Hackett and added a more funk laden rock approach that even incorporated jazzy touches to the mix although this is neo-prog and Gensesis and Hackett do come into play at various points on SILENT DANCE. Also unique to the sound was the exquisite violin playing of Marc Elton which added a completely new dimension to the mix and nowhere is this so deftly utilized as in the beautiful instrumental "Return Of Spring." The most interesting aspect of SOLSTICE's music has to be the divine vocal ability of Sandy Leigh whose unique soprano vocal phrasing sounds quite like no other. Renaissance comparisons are inevitable as she does nail certain aspects of Annie Haslam's style but overall she is more like Jon Anderson of Yes than any female contemporary. The music has an eerie similarity to Yes at times as well but only in the most evasive ways.

SOLSTICE had a short lifespan the first time around. While they would form in 1980, they wouldn't release their debut album until 1984 and then they would break up soon thereafter. The band would reconvene nearly ten years later and relaunch their career beginning with 1993's "New Life" but Sandy Leigh would not rejoin the cast which leaves the one album from their 80s run quite unique even in the band's lengthy multi-decade career. SILENT DANCE is really a hard album to define because it tackles so many styles. At times it comes off as a sophisticated progressive folk as on "Earthsong" as it eschews any neo-prog labels, other moments find it totally fits the neo-prog ticket such as on "Brave New World" that initiates the Hackett inspired "Wind & Wuthering" attack complete with the wailing 80s synthesizer stabs.

Equalling the diversity of the music are Sandy Leigh's vocals as she could belt out the highest pitched squeals without missing a beat as well as hover in mid-range mellowness. She sounds like many different vocalists strewn about SILENT DANCE and a tragedy for the band that she didn't rejoin in the second coming. Overall SILENT DANCE is an interesting specimen of unpeggable progressive rock from the mid-80s that displayed a unique approach that sorta skirted all easy categorization, just the kind of prog i can really sink my teeth into. For some it seems that the synthesizer parts keep this one dated but this WAS the 80s and despite those infrequent period pieces especially on "Peace" and "Brave New World," this album sounds out of step with the general consensus of neo-prog led prog revival.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The first thing that stands out upon listening to this album is how strikingly different this debut album is from all other debut "neo prog" or "romanticized" progressive rock albums are from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Though the crystalline voice of lead vocalist Sandy Leigh is not pitch-perfect nor as consistent as that of either Annie Haslam or Jon Anderson (the two artists to which she is most compared--I tend to think her voice more similar to that of Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan, Magenta's Christina Booth, or even Janis Joplin), the chunky YES-like bass, 12-string guitars, multiple guitar tracks, virtuosic violin, and bass pedals lead to a sophistication and maturity that is so much beyond other debut prog albums by the likes of IQ, Pallas, Quasar, Twelfth Night, Gizmo, and Saga.

1. "Peace" (6:30) female vocals! And layers of background singers! With bass-dripping, YES-like prog music. Nice! And an excellent lead guitarist. (Top notch solos!) Great melodies and harmonic structures. And violin. If the sound production were better this might be deserving of full marks! (9/10)

2. "Earthsong" (6:38) opens with very cool, very intimate acoustic guitar. Joined by keys and then laid-back drums and very nice fretless bass. Nice groove set up. The lyric is so prescient of today's environmental ills and their effects. Just such a nice floating experience! (9.5/10)

3. "Sunrise" (4:07) multiple female vocals with heavy Prog Folk accompaniment over an acoustic bluesy Led Zeppelin chord structure. Great HUGH MARSH (Bruce Cockburn)-like electric violin solo. Another song that might be rated higher if the sound engineering/production had been better. (9/10)

4. "Return of Spring" (4:53) violin and acoustic guitars launch full on with bass and drums in support. The violin work on this one is stunning, given the lead for most of the song with intermittent breaks for acoustic guitars and multi-voice "la-la-las." (9/10)

5. "Cheyenne" (5:59) opens with an awesome multi-voiced vocals with spacey acoustic guitars sounding like John Martyn's echoplex guitar. Great sound with amazing vocal arrangements. Very spacious throughout. (9/10)

6. "Brave New World" (8:46) a RUSH-y opening before folk vocals with keys lead to a sound that could have come straight off of MAGENTA's Seven album with its YES-RENAISSANCE hybridization. Awesome song! (19/20)

7. "Find Yourself" (6:03) a simple pop-like song sounding very much like Nicolette Larson's "Lotta Love." Pretty with inspiring lyrics. (8.5/10)

8. "Whyte Lady" (5:46) (8.5/10)

Total Time: 48:42

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of relatively early neo-progressive rock music and one of the finest sounding debut albums in the Neo Prog lexicon. Were it not for the poor production many of the songs on this album might even have earned higher ratings.

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Those who remember those days tell me that back when the new wave of British prog was in full swing in the early- to-mid 1980s, the top of the hierarchy was generally considered to be Marillion, Pallas, Twelfth Night, and Solstice. (Now-legendary names like IQ or Pendragon occupied a more secondary tier - perhaps headlining sometimes, but stepping back to take a support role when one of the bigger names was playing.)

Of these four, three would go on to sign major label contracts and make a shot for the big time. Marillion, out of all the pack, can be said to have truly made the most of this opportunity - most prog fans already know their history. Pallas and Twelfth Night's major label releases, on the other hand, sank like a stone - and the accepted wisdom is that this was due in part to attempts to make their sound more poppy and commercial. Certainly, Twelfth Night's self-titled album on Virgin is regarded as a bit simplistic compared to the dark depths of Fact and Fiction, whilst the original release of Pallas' The Sentinel was fumbled due to scrambling the intended running order of the Atlantis Suite, carving out great chunks of it and replacing them with poppier standalone tracks.

Solstice, on the other hand, stood apart from all this, being the only one of the Big Four of the era who never signed to a major label - and never intended to. This, perhaps, arises in part from their different ethos; while they were Marquee regulars and warmly embraced by the audience there, their hearts were really in the free festival scene of the era which also formed a home for the likes of Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles.

The original lineup of Solstice would break up in 1985 and the band would go on hiatus for some years after that, and whilst by all reports this was entirely down to internal tensions within the group, at the same time there's a certain aptness to this: under assault from a government hostile to it, the free festival scene would find its activities increasingly curtailed as the 1980s ground on, with the 1985 "Battle of the Beanfield" at Stonehenge proving an ugly turning point.

We can be glad, then, that before they split the good-natured hippies of Solstice produced this lone album, in which band leader Andy Glass' subtle guitar, Marc Elton's soaring violin, and the Jon Anderson-meets-Annie Haslam vocals of Sandy Leigh combine to present an intriguingly unique sound in the early neo-prog scene. True to Leigh's singing style, I sense strong hints of Renaissance's folk-classical blend and Yes' spirituality in this music, with perhaps a little influence from other folk-prog bands like Jethro Tull (especially from the Songs From the Wood period).

Previous editions of Silent Dance have suffered a little from a production job which, to my ears, isn't quite suited to teasing out the prog complexities of the material, but the Definitive Edition (which includes a number of bonus tracks offering a real feast of 1980s Solstice) does a good job of cleaning things up. It's not a perfect album - Cheyenne, whilst it unquestionably has good intentions, seems awfully keen on taking up the cause of Native Americans without showing much evidence that the band had actually consulted with representatives of the community or really looked into the issue beyond typical New Age "let's cosplay as Native Americans and borrow their culture" stuff of the sort which was rife at the time, but despite these aspects it's still a very pretty number. And when the album really works there's a sense of majesty to it which is uniquely Solstice.

Latest members reviews

3 stars In their first incarnation, which became a recording act, Solstice were so beyond commercialization that they initially turned down a chance to record with EMI records, who were courting the new breed of 80's progressive rock bands having just signed Marillion. Perhaps by consciously sounding th ... (read more)

Report this review (#1869332) | Posted by SteveG | Thursday, January 25, 2018 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The opening minutes of this album reminds me alot about RENAISSANCE. Then the album takes off in a slightly different direction, but still within the same area as the above mentioned band. RENAISSANCE has obviously inspired a lot of bands, indirectly or directly. SOLSTICE is no difference. Bu ... (read more)

Report this review (#216452) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, May 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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